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Do laundry color catchers really protect your clothes?

June 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's something that has probably happened to all of us: no matter how careful we are separating light and dark clothes, somehow something red gets in the pile and turns everything pink. So Consumer Reports put two new products to the test that are supposed to prevent colors from running.

Consumer Reports' Bernie Deitrick tested the Shout Color Catcher, which claims the sheets absorb the colors that run, along with the Carbona Color and Dirt Grabber, which claims you can "wash mixed colors with confidence."

Deitrick washed sure-to-run red polo shirts with white cloths to see how well the products work. Both the Shout and the Carbona color-catching sheets turned pink, absorbing quite a bit of the dye.

Deitrick then used a special machine to precisely measure the color levels of the white test cloths. It turns out neither Shout nor Carbona could keep the cloths from turning pink. In fact, the cloths didn't look any better than the wash done without a color-catching product.

"You don't need these products. Your best bet is to separate your dark colors from your light colors and if you think something is going to bleed, wash it separately," said Deitrick.

In fact, in small print on the back of the box, Carbona actually cautions "new colored clothing should always be washed separately the first few times." So there is no escaping having to separate your laundry.

Consumer Reports says deep, intense colors like red, blue, and black are more likely to run. Besides separating dark clothes from lights and whites, it also helps to wash your clothes in cold water.

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